Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — As the Knicks hurtle toward a potential sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, team president Donnie Walsh says he’s not certain if he will return next season.
“I haven’t got any crystal balls at all so I don’t know,” Walsh said Saturday with his team facing an 0-3 deficit entering Game 4 Sunday.
“But I wouldn’t make a big deal out of that…There are a lot of factors involved, some mine, some franchise, so whatever comes out of it, comes out of it.”
Knicks owner Jim Dolan has until April 30 to exercise or decline the fourth-year option on Walsh’s contract.
Yet Walsh, 70, said the two sides could agree to a deal up until his contract expires June 30.
“There are other answers to what you guys have made a big deal out of, but I’m not going to go into it right now,” Walsh said. “It’s my own personal, private business.”
Walsh did say he’s looking forward to retooling and tweaking the roster over the summer.
Right now the Knicks have only six players under contract for next year — Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Landry Fields, Andy Rautins, Toney Douglas and Renaldo Balkman. Ronny Turiaf holds a player option and the Knicks hold options on Chauncey Billups ($14.2 million) and Bill Walker ($916,000).
By the sounds of it, Walsh is a big Billups fan, even though the 34-year-old point guard hasn’t played since Game 1 with a strained left knee and could be done for the season.
“I think we need him out there,” Walsh said of Billups. “He helps organize the floor. When he’s not out there it doesn’t look as organized because you’re asking players who are in their second and third playoff game to do that.”
Billups has been hurt three times since the trade, but Walsh said he wasn’t concerned about the player’s long-term health.
“No, no because it’s the first time he’s ever hurt his knee,” he said.
“I don’t make lasting judgments on that.”
Asked if Billups could be a “transitional player” who tutors Douglas next season before the team pursues Chris Paul or Deron Williams in 2012, Walsh added: “I like Chauncey a lot. I think he’s a good player.”
Walsh also seems impressed with Shawne Williams, who had team-high 17 points in Game 3 but is not under contract for next season.
“I like the way he’s played, I like the way he’s played,” Walsh. “I think he’s played with a certain toughness that you have to have.”
Williams, the former Memphis standout who’s had his share of off-the-court troubles, said he would like to return next season.
“Most definitely, this is where I want to play at,” he said. “With that group of guys and a couple great shooting stars, I feel like we can do something with [it].”
He added: “Right now I’m not even thinking about that. I’m going to leave that to my agent. When it’s time to sit down and talk about that we can talk about it.”
Still, Walsh understands the team needs “other elements” — presumably including a defensive-minded big man, a backup point guard and a shooter.
“Before we even got into the playoffs, I knew that we needed other elements,” he said. “That’s complicated because we’ve got a new collective bargaining agreement, but you’re going to be able to do something and that’s what I’m thinking about.”
Walsh said he was looking forward to “the draft and free agency or trades or whatever,” but isn’t concerned about his contract status.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about right now, at all,” he said. I’m thinking about [Sunday].”
**Injured Knicks don’t have the horses to compete
(Photo courtesy Daily News)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.